The Northern Powerhouse should not be a war of the roses

The creation of a Northern Powerhouse should not become a battle between Yorkshire and Lancashire, according to the head of the Leeds office of law firm DLA Piper.

Sarah Day of DLA Piper.

Sarah Day said it’s not about one city taking the lead, whether that’s Leeds or Manchester. Instead all northern cities need to work together if investment is to be brought into the region and the North is to become a viable alternative to London.

She was speaking as the law firm prepares to sponsor The Yorkshire Post’s Excellence in Business Awards for the tenth year running. DLA Piper is one of the founding sponsors and backs the category for companies with a turnover of more than £50m.

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“The Northern Powerhouse is definitely much needed and a sensible approach,” said Ms Day.

“We are competing on a global stage. First of all, outside investors need to choose Europe, then we need to attract them to the UK and then offer them an option that isn’t London.

“It’s not about choosing Leeds or Manchester. The time it takes to travel between the two cities is less than getting from one end of London to the other. It’s mad not to treat it as one powerhouse. We have a huge amount to offer.”

She added that Northern unity doesn’t mean each region’s unique characteristics should be ignored.

“These different characteristics still exist and they’re still powerful,” she said.

“The East End of London is part of London but it’s also a district in its own right.”

Ms Day said that a major requirement for the Northern Powerhouse will be improved rail links.

“By the time rail links between Leeds and Manchester are upgraded with electrification of the line, it will reduce the journey to a little over half an hour rather than an hour,” she said.

Another issue will be the North’s confidence in its skills and abilities. “Yorkshire is a great exporter of professional services. We tend not to bang the drum enough about that,” she said.

“50 per cent of the work we do at DLA Piper in our Yorkshire offices is for clients that are overseas or based elsewhere in the UK. The work is being done out of Yorkshire because clients have either chosen the expertise that’s here or the people that are based here.”

Talking about DLA Piper’s sponsorship of The Yorkshire Post’s Excellence in Business Awards for companies with a turnover of more than £50m, Ms Day said: “We are looking for excellence in terms of products or services and excellence in engagement with staff.

“We will be looking for planning and analysis of their markets – what is likely to be coming down the line at them. A lot of businesses struggle with that.”

She added that winning companies will have a good level of social engagement with their communities, or in social responsibility or with a charity.

“We will also be looking for the ability to listen to and respond to ideas from the shop floor,” said Ms Day.

The deadline to enter the awards has been extended to July 19. Winners will be announced at a ceremony in Leeds on October 14. The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, will be our keynote speaker and will give an address on the issue of responsibility in business.​ DLA ​Piper, PwC and Yorkshire Bank are the main sponsors. Bradford University School of Management, Drax, QBE Insurance and thebigword are associate sponsors.

To enter, click here. ​

DLA Piper’s offices in Yorkshire advise local clients as well as those based elsewhere in the UK and overseas. Recently, the Corporate team in Leeds and London, working with colleagues in Rome, advised Etihad Airways on the acquisition of a shareholding in Italian airline Alitalia and associated arrangements, for €1,760m.

Lawyers from the firm’s Leeds office advised HSBC on the restructuring of its £24.5m loan facilities to the well-known high street brand Mamas & Papas international retail group, enabling a £25m investment by private equity house BlueGem Capital Partners to be made.